According to the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation, cerebral palsy is the most common congenital disorder in the entire country. In total, it affects around half-a-million children and adults throughout the country and another 16.5 million all over the world. Depending on the type they have, those who suffer from cerebral palsy can display a wide range of symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no known cure at this time, though many steps can be taken to make the disability more manageable. While there are a number of issues that can lead to cerebral palsy, understanding some of the most common causes are important for helping a child with the disorder.
Congenital Cerebral Palsy
Congenital cerebral palsy refers to the kind that is developed before birth or during the birthing process. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this form is also the most common. It can be caused by the following:
- Infections that Develop During Pregnancy: Infections like chicken pox, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and rubella can all increase the chances of an infant being diagnosed with cerebral palsy. These types of infections increase production of cytokins, which are proteins that work as receptors in the body. When they get released in large mountains, the brain of an infant can become damaged, leading to cerebral palsy. Pregnant women with urinary tract infections and/or high fevers can also run the risk of having children who develop cerebral palsy.
- Twins, Triplets, etc.: The more babies born at the same time, the higher the risk of low birth weight, which can also lead to cerebral palsy.
- Low Birth Weight: Infants who are born under five pounds are more likely to develop cerebral palsy, with those fewer than three pounds representing the most at-risk group. Premature babies are usually vulnerable too.
- Infertility Treatments: Treating infertility often means having a premature baby with a low birth weight. Thus, these treatments can also lead to cerebral palsy.
- Jaundice: While many people believe jaundice is a relatively benign issue, if left untreated, it could cause a number of serious problems, including cerebral palsy.
- Birth Problems: Umbilical cord problems, placental problems, and uterine rupture may all lead to the disability’s development.
- Incompatible Blood: Sometimes, an infant and its mother have incompatible blood types, which in turn can cause Rh factor diseases. If this is not caught in time and treated, the infant might develop cerebral palsy.
- Chorioamnionitis: The presence of chorioamnionitis in the womb could increase the risk of cerebral palsy for an infant by up to four times.
Acquired Cerebral Palsy
If an infant experienced brain damage after 28 days of age, they could be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. However, this type accounts for less than 20% of cases.
Common causes include:
- Low Birth Weight: Just like with the congenital version, low birth weight can be a cause of acquired cerebral palsy too.
- Blood Flow Problems: Blood flow problems, like those caused by unformed blood vessels, clotting issues, heart defects, and sickle cell diseases can eventually lead to cerebral palsy.
- Traumatic Head Injuries: If an infant is dropped, falls or is otherwise in an accident, cerebral palsy may result.
One out of every 10 infants who go on to develop cerebral palsy suffered from asphyxiation during the birthing process. However, brain damage can also occur before birth too, which may also lead to the disorder.
High blood pressure and infections in the mother can also be the source of cerebral palsy. Any type of abnormal brain development might cause damage that would later grow into the disability too.
While it is true that many children develop this condition without any preventable reason, other times, it is because of medical malpractice. There are a number of reasons that can cause a baby can be afflicted with cerebral palsy such as mistreatment of infections, umbilical cord problems, and general medical malpractice to name a few.
Although thinking about cerebral palsy can be difficult for most parents, it is important to understand possible causes so you can best avoid them.